Interview with Yohji Yamamoto's Communications Director: Coralie Gauthier

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Video Transcript

Emily Dickson: 

That was a beautiful show.  I wanted to ask you why did you decide to use couples who were actual real normal people as oppose to supermodels?

Coralie Gauthier:

There were a few aspects that we wanted to explore for this show.  Firstly, Yohji always enjoys to have the catwalk with ‘real people’, different shapes, heights, attitudes, cultures - we felt that it would be very interesting for London, as it is really a city of individuality.  On the other side, as a V&A exhibition this is really the first time that we have shown menswear and womenswear together as an exhibition, so we thought that it would be nice to show menswear and womenswear together on the catwalk

ED:

And were they all British models?

CG

Strangely, there are a lot of French, but they are all based in London.

ED:

And what do you think that does, how does that change the dynamic of a fashion show - to have real people who are in a relationship wearing the clothes.

CG:

I would say it gives much more room for accident.  Yohji really hates perfection, so for him it is good to have real people joking and playing with clothes with a certain sense of humour.

ED:

I noticed that they were sort of reassuring each other, and looking kind of awkward, one of them would kind of stroke their arm - that is a side of the catwalk situation that you don’t normally see because models are normally incredibly over-confident.

CG:

Absolutely, it’s something that we asked for.  We said, ‘just be very natural as you would be in the street, or in the forest, just having a lovely time and looking all around, and enjoy it’, so it was one of the briefs at the beginning.

ED:

It worked very very well.  I wanted to ask you about whether it was important to you that these couples were actually in love?

CG:

It was for sure one of the things, because you can’t fake it and when you have the couple like this, you really get the kind of electricity of love, you can’t fake it.

ED:

And can you talk me through the influences in terms of the styles of clothing that he is referencing because I notice there are a lot of British references with things like Tophats and collared shirts .  And there also seem to be a lot of references to things like Punk and Victoriana.

CG:

Absolutely, what you just saw was Spring/Summer 2011 collection.  That was a very particular moment for Yohji because it was the end of two years and a half of working on the exhibition here and in fact one of the curator and project managers came on one of the trips and brought a book from the V&A textile collection and Yohji literally fell in love with all the different textiles.  He decided to take it as an inspiration, so that was the story for the menswear.  For the womenswear, it was more of a variation of Punk, Black and Classic mixed with an ode to peace and religion, so it was kind of funky, and soft in a message of peace because in a way it was like Buddhism, Jewish symbols, Catholic and things like that.

ED:

It sort of draws attention to the fact that clothes and identity are very closely connected and I think that the use of these couples is related to that.

CG:

Yeah that is true, it is much more interactive and again for Yohji Yamamoto for him it is very important for him that the person who is wearing his clothes has their own personality and their own attitude and I think that he doesn’t want to impose a style, he just wants your personality to add something to his clothes and his proposal, but it’s up to you to make it happen.

ED:

It’s interesting because the men’s suits are sort of unstructured, but there is also something quite structured about them, I don’t know if that is similar to what you are talking about.  The body or the person becomes the structure of the clothes?

CG:

I think you know that Yohji starts with the fabric - that is the starting point for everything, for him.  This is something that is very important for him and there is a good balance because he leaves a lot of space and air, so you can feel comfortable in the clothes.

ED:

And is Buddhism and the Japanese way of life significant in relation to the design?

CG:

No I wouldn’t say that, it was just a message, but not really connected.  It was just one of the themes of this season.

ED:

Finally I just wanted to ask about the context of the room with the Raphael’s and the crucifix peeping over the top - how significant was that in relation to the show?

CG:

It was something like a kind of dream because initially I have to say when we started to work on the V&A exhibition, as you know there is the main gallery space where we have all different kind of clothes that we spread all around the museum.  The Raphael rooms was one of the first on the list so we are very happy to be there because it’s like the last idyllic space of the exhibition. 

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Coralie Gauthier discusses 'V&A Fashion in Motion: Yohji Yamamoto' with Emily Dixon, providing an exclusive insight into the inspiration and reference points behind the show, and the significance of using real couples as models.